The Man Named Kimura

Time for a little grappling history. Do you know who Masahiko Kimura was?

He is the Japanese judoka whom the double wrist lock “Kimura” was named after.  Not only was he the best judo competitor of his era, but a training maniac as well. Kimura was known to practice his feared osoto gari, ormajor outer reap,” against a tree. Story has it that he performed 100’s of push-ups and trained hours per day.

In the BJJ world, Kimura is perhaps best known for his epic battle in Brazil against Helio Gracie. Kimura dislocated the elbow of Gracie, whose corner was forced to throw in the towel. Thereafter, in the Brazilian vocabulary, the double wrist lock was christened with the name of the Japanese man who used it to submit Gracie.

Here is a  story from his autobiography:

In Sao Paulo, a huge man named Gorry Guerrero was waiting for me. He was 198 cm and 200 kg, and had tight and super strong muscles. One day, a judo 5th dan, who weighed about 120kg, tried to throw Gorry Guerrero by Uchimata. Gorry Guerrero then lifted up the judoka overhead at once. After this incident, his reputation as a man of unparalleled strength spread throughout Brazil. He always played the role of a heel in pro wrestling, but was well liked among the wrestlers as a gentle nice guy. One day, after I finished a pro wrestling match, Gorry Guerrero came to see me. He said he fought many matches against judoka from Japan, but when he deposited his weight on the judoka as soon as the judoka tried to execute a throw, the judoka collapsed like a frog, and some of them got badly hurt in the lower back and got hospitalized. He then said, “I learned judo for about 6 years when I was a child. I was taught that the essence of judo is that a small man can throw a big man. I want you to show me real judo.

I had never practiced with such a big man. I spent 2 or 3 days thinking what techniques to use. One day, when my pro wrestling match ended early, I and Guerrero stood at the center of a ring. All the audiences had gone home. The arena was empty.I, who am 170cm, looked like a child hanging on an adult no matter how I moved, and had no idea about where and how I should attempt a technique. Whenever he swung me with his hands, I wobbled side to side. When he pulled me up, my feet were lifted up in the air. He attempted O-soto-gari with his right leg. I withstood the pressure with full force. It was fortunate that he did not make transition from O-soto-gari to O-soto-otoshi using his weight. He followed with O-soto-gari, O-goshi, and Ashi-barai. I let him attack and concentrated on defense. He must have thought he was gaining the ground. He came forward with a momentum. I measured the timing and initiated Ippon-seoi. His huge body was carried on my hip. He lost the center of gravity, rolled forward, and fell on his back. As he tried to get up, I threw him 3 more times in a row. He finally made a gesture of surrender, and said, “Thank you, real judo is wonderful, after all” repeatedly.

-“My Judo” by Masahiko Kimura


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here